I spent 2 weeks in Zanzibar, exploring almost everything the island offers. Thus I compiled a list of the best beaches in Zanzibar.
Although they are all beautiful, I thought it was worth making a top 7 best beaches in Zanzibar, given that the African island is big and you need some time to discover it.
When I say Zanzibar, I mean the island of Unguja. Although Zanzibar is an archipelago with several isles, Unguja is the largest and most touristic. Zanzibar is also known as Spice Island due to the spices grown here, which you can see and taste on tour. However, I have already written about the best things to do in Zanzibar.
Being located almost on the equator, the temperatures in Zanzibar remain about the same all year round. However, the climate is divided into the dry and rainy seasons. Knowing this is good because it can make the difference between a successful vacation and a less successful one.
Therefore, before booking your vacation on the African island, you must know the best time to visit Zanzibar.
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The 7 best beaches in Zanzibar
Map of the best beaches in Zanzibar
I decided to make a map of the most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar. In this way, you can see roughly where they are located and where it would be better to look for accommodation. I recommend staying at least two hotels in two different areas when you arrive in Zanzibar.
My top recommendations are Mahali Zanzibar if you stay in Paje, Riu Palace if you spend a few days in Kendwa and Mvuvi Boutique Resort for total relaxation in Kiwengwa.
1. Kendwa Beach
It’s my favorite beach in Zanzibar because it combines fine and white sand, turquoise, calm ocean water, and relief with dramatic rocks and palm trees. It’s not a very crowded beach because the tourists who arrive here generally stay at the resorts in the area. So, add this to the list of advantages.
You cannot admire the sunrise from Kendwa Beach, but you can certainly enjoy the most beautiful sunsets. It’s a good beach for snorkeling, diving, and riding a hydro bike because the water is mostly calm.
The good part about this beach is that the water level does not change much, as with the beaches on the island’s eastern side, where the low tide leaves up to 2 km of the exposed coast.
Also, on Kendwa Beach, the famous Full Moon Party takes place at the Kendwa Rocks Hotel, which is said to be one of the most beautiful and exciting Full Moon parties in the world.
Where is Kendwa Beach:
This beach is about 3 km from Nungwi Beach, and we arrived here because we chose to spend five days in a 5-star resort located right on this beach, Riu Palace Zanzibar.
Where to stay on Kendwa Beach:
- budget: Kendwa Rocks Hotel – swimming pool, restaurant, private parking
- mid-range: Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa – vast pool, private beach, room service, bar, villas with private pool
- luxury: Zuri Zanzibar – swimming pool, private beach, breakfast, and dinner included, restaurant
2. Mtende Beach | The most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar
I love this beach, and I consider it one of the best-kept secrets in Zanzibar because there were no tourists there except for us when I visited.
It’s a beach where you can meet many locals who come here to wash their clothes or pick seafood because they are plentiful in this area. On the beach, you will also find a swing attached to the rocks that you can use for the most beautiful pictures.
Mtende is quite far from most touristy areas of Zanzibar so you can get here by car on an organized tour or on your own.
One of the main features of Mtende Beach is the coral reef. It hosts various marine life, from fish and turtles to dolphins.
Visitors to Mtende Beach could also walk through the village of Michamvi, known for its traditional Swahili architecture.
Where is Mtende Beach:
Mtende Beach is in the island’s southeastern part, about 70 km from Stone Town and the Zanzibar airport. The beach is part of Mtende village and next to Eden Rock Zanzibar.
3. Kiwengwa Beach
If I had to choose one of the cleanest beaches in Zanzibar, I would first think about Kiwengwa Beach. It’s part of a less touristy area, and that’s because there aren’t many places to socialize.
They call it Little Italy because many Italian tourists choose to come here, but also, the owners of some hotels have the same nationality.
I stayed at Mvuvi Boutique Resort, next to the pontoon in Kiwengwa. I spent 3 days here, and I liked the atmosphere. If you are looking for a less touristy, quieter place with a gorgeous beach, Kiwengwa is the answer.
Kiwengwa is a beach known for its crystal clear turquoise waters, fine white sand, and tall palm trees. Swimming and water sports like snorkeling and kitesurfing are popular in Kiwengwa.
Some activities in the area include visiting villages and souvenir shops with international brand names.
Where is Kiwengwa Beach:
The beach is located on the northeastern side of the island, 40 km from Stone Town.
Where to stay near Kiwengwa Beach:
- budget: The Kichwa House – on the beach, breakfast included
- mid-range: Mvuvi Boutique Resort – swimming pool, on the beach, terrace overlooking the ocean, complimentary breakfast
- luxury: Melia Zanzibar – 2 swimming pools, spa, private beach, breakfast included
4. Paje Beach | Top beaches in Zanzibar
Probably the most famous beach in Zanzibar is Paje. Paje is a very long beach, and at low tide, you feel it has become infinite. This beach is ideal for young people because there is always much fun here.
You can choose from many hotels, cool cafes, and restaurants in Paje. The fact that it’s so touristy comes with the less pleasant part (or not, it depends) of the beach: it becomes extremely crowded with tourists, locals, street vendors, or Maasai, who can sometimes be annoying.
Paje and Kiwengwa are a paradise for those who love water sports, from kitesurfing to diving or snorkeling. If you are interested in this aspect, you must know that there are many kitesurfing schools in Paje.
In Paje and Nungwi, you will also find the most shops with souvenirs. One thing is sure: Zanzibarians are incredibly talented, and I recommend buying their products. They make some stunning sculptures and paintings. I returned home with some works of art from them.
Where is Paje Beach:
Paje is located on the eastern side of Unguja island, between Jamiabi and Bwejuu, approximately 50 km from Stone Town and the airport.
Where to stay in Paje:
- budget: Villa Kiota – on the beach, free parking
- mid-range: Mahali Zanzibar – pool with ocean view, restaurant, free parking on the beach, breakfast included
- luxury: The Nest Boutique Resort – gorgeous pool, unique design, terrace with a view, bar, spa
5. The beach in Stone Town
It may not be the most beautiful beach in Zanzibar, but it offers a few things other beaches on the islands do not. On this beach, you can meet most locals, and the water here is also perfect for swimming, unlike Paje, for example.
Stone Town is not necessarily known for its beaches, but there are options for those who want to tan near the city. The most popular resorts here that have a beach are Zanzibar Beach Resort and Serena Inn.
I recommend the Beach House Zanzibar restaurant for delicious food and beautiful sunsets. The pictures below are the only proof you need.
Where to stay in Stone Town:
- budget: Kholle House – pool, spa, restaurant, authentic design
- mid-range: Dhow Palace Hotel – traditional hotel, indoor pool, restaurant
6. Nungwi Beach
I spent little time on Nungwi Beach, but enough to realize why tourists love it. However, I placed it lower on the list of the most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar because it seems pretty crowded and noisy.
It’s considered one of the best beaches in Africa, and along with Paje Beach, it’s one of the most famous beaches in Zanzibar. I can understand why Nungwi ranks high on that list. It is undoubtedly the entertainment center of Zanzibar, with many cafes, bars, and clubs.
It has become a favorite of backpackers and hippies. But Nungwi Beach is also perfect for admiring sunsets.
Where is Nungwi:
Nungwi is right at the “top” of Unguja island, in the northern extremity, at a distance of 60 km that you can cover in an hour and a quarter by car.
Where to stay in Nungwi:
- budget: Green’s Nungwi – swimming pool, parking, breakfast included
- mid-range: Canary Nungwi Hotel & SPA – swimming pool, modern design, bar, delicious breakfast
- luxury: Sandies Baobab Beach Zanzibar – swimming pool, private beach, spa, bar, breakfast included
7. Pingwe Beach | Top 7 beaches in Zanzibar
This is the beach where the famous restaurant, The Rock, is located, probably the most famous in Zanzibar. For this reason, it’s also called The Rock Restaurant Beach.
The restaurant seems to be floating on the water at high tide, while at low tide, it already sits nicely on the beach, and you can reach it easily.
Pingwe Beach is known for its relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. Therefore, it’s perfect for those who want to escape the crowds and want a more authentic and local experience.
There are not many accommodation options in the area, unlike other beaches in Zanzibar, because it’s a beach that can be reached on a one-day tour to discover the island’s beauties.
Where is Pingwe Beach:
Pingwe, or The Rock Restaurant Beach, is located on the island’s southeast side, approximately 65 km from Stone Town.
Where to stay in Pingwe:
Hekaya Zanzibar – swimming pool, private beach, bar, delicious breakfast included
Other beautiful beaches in Zanzibar:
- Dongwe Beach – on the eastern side of Zanzibar, famous for its beautiful coral reefs
- Bwejuu Beach – on the southeast coast of the island, a beach with white sand and crystal blue waters; famous for swimming and snorkeling
- Matemwe Beach – on the northeast coast of the island
- Jambiani Beach – located in the southeast of the island; vibrant nightlife
- Kizimkaze Beach – in the south of the island, known for snorkeling and rich marine life
- Pongwe Beach – located in the northeast of the island, secluded and clean, famous for its clear blue waters and peaceful atmosphere
What you need to know about the beaches of Zanzibar
Use reef-safe sunscreen
Zanzibar’s coral reefs are fragile ecosystems, so it’s important to know what SPF to use when visiting Zanzibar’s most beautiful beaches. This way, you will protect these natural wonders that can delight our eyes for a long time.
Respect the local culture and religion
When you leave the beach area, wear a little more appropriate clothing. You can sit in a bikini on the beach, but going topless is not recommended. Zanzibar is an island with a predominantly Muslim religion, so you must also consider this aspect.
Watch out for the tide
Zanzibar is known for the low tide that occurs daily on the island’s eastern side. The water recedes hundreds of meters out to sea, exposing a vast piece of the beach. Don’t forget to check the tide schedule to know when it’s good to go to the beach and when to schedule other activities on the island.